A Manhattan theater has pulled the newest United 93 trailer after audiences voiced their dismay. "I don't think people are ready for this," the AMC Loews Lincoln Square manager told Newsweek. "One lady was crying. She was saying that we shouldn't have played the trailer. That this was wrong."
I first saw the trailer a week and a half ago, before Inside Man. It played between previews for fellow disaster movie Poseidon and spoon-full-of-sugar Akeelah and the Bee. (Sidebar: Is anyone else monumentally tired of theatre and film using a spelling bee as a pretense for narrative? I mean, it's a spelling bee). Anyway, there was no reaction from the audience -- visibly, audibly, either in awe or in disgust. I myself squirmed slightly, just like I did when I caught the flag-flapping, heart-tugging end of A&E's TV movie Flight 93 a month or so ago. I can't explain the squirm. Was it a function of "too soon"? Or awkwardness over the "commercialization" of a now-sacred catastrophe? Or fear of an actual reprisal? Or worry about the film being used as a rallying cry against any and all dissenters? Or did I squirm because that's the tsk-tsk response I thought I should feel?
Tact aside: I think the story of United Flight 93 is fodder for great drama. Hell, it was great drama. Can you imagine? A group of disparates stuck in a metal tube, hearing news that the world was ending on the ground, knowing they were dead no matter what. Some of them acted selflessly. I'm sure others were paralyzed or adamant they follow the hijackers' orders. There were no doubt heroes and cowards. I hope the film shows both.
The movie opens April 28. I will see it, as will much of the country, out of masochistic curiosity. Maybe it's just me, but don't we get off on the eschatological? Think of the scads who sat through Titanic and Pearl Harbor again and again, reveling in every glistening moment of "real-life" tragedy. We get chills during Independence Day or The Day after Tomorrow as destruction looms and buildings fall. It's cathartic to experience these things, isn't it? It delivers us from the humdrum, gives our lives a sense of gravity, fatefulness and fatelessness.
We may not be "ready" for a feature film about 9/11, but it's absurd to decry the making and exhibiting of one as "wrong." Humans are storytellers, dummy. We tell stories to entertain, to enlighten and, yes, to make money. To fight a battle against a 9/11 movie would mean entering a perpetual and pointless war, with another skirmish on the horizon.